Bello echoes Locsin: We cannot force Filipinos in Libya to go home
MANILA, Philippines — While recognizing the importance of having our countrymen repatriated from Libya, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday agreed with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. that the government cannot force Filipinos there to return home.
Locsin earlier said that there have been no forced evacuations and repatriations in Libya, as the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) themselves have the final decision.
Asked if he shares the same sentiments as the foreign affairs secretary, Bello said that some Filipinos insist to stay despite the efforts of the government to have them repatriated.
“Hindi talaga natin mapipilit talaga ‘yan kung ayaw nila (We cannot force them if they do not want to) so we just have to be more convincing in talking to them for their own safety,” Bello told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview.
“We support the decision of Secretary Locsin,” Bello added.
Bello, however, said that this will not stop the Philippine government to encourage Filipinos in Libya to repatriate especially if alert level 4, which entails forced evacuation, will be raised in the country.
“We are deploying an augmentation team [on Thursday], [the members of the team] are already experienced in repatriation efforts. They will be in Libya to assist in the repatriation of OFWs,” Bello said.
Aside from Locsin and Bello, Chargé d’Affaires Elmer Cato has also expressed the struggles faced by the government in seeking to have Filipinos in Libya repatriated.
Cato, however, said that he is confident that OFWs would seek to be repatriated once Alert Level 4 is raised.
“When we raise the Alert Level to IV, our people themselves would know it’s time to go because their lives would already be in serious danger and that it would be really difficult for us to do anything anymore to help them if they choose to stay,” Cato said in a separate interview with INQUIRER.net. /je
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